Saturday, April 24, 2010
Along the same lines, we are sometimes told that we need companies to contact the Representatives representing their districts and the Senators representing their states, since they often represent a lot of jobs back home. In particular, they need to help make the connection between tax policy and trade promotion by telling Congress that double taxation is impeding their ability to send their people overseas to compete effectively in foreign markets.
Whether the message is coming from an individual or a company, there are a few key points I would suggest including. First, ask them to support the Working American Competitiveness Act (HR 1798). Similarly, we would advise that you ask them to oppose the provision of the Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act of 2010 (S 3018) that eliminates the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. Finally, it would be useful to ask members of both the House and Senate to join the Americans Abroad Caucus.
If you would like a model letter to send to Congress (either from yourself or from a company you're affiliated with), just contact me by email at email@example.com.
Friday, April 23, 2010
In any event, I've never been to Minnesota, but won't argue with its Great State nickname because it's turning out to be quite a Great State for overseas Americans. This week, we have met with three very supportive members of the Minnesota Congressional delegation and I'm starting to think this pattern might be more than a fluke. The offices of Senators Klobuchar and Franken and Congressman Ellison were particularly receptive to us and seem to understand our issues better than most of Capitol Hill. If you're from Minnesota, then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org because I would like to work with you to get even more of the Minnesota delegation on board.
The only other state delegation I've ever seen coalesce like this is the delegation of my home state of South Carolina. When I first got involved in OAW, Senator DeMint was our primary champion. Since then, my Congressman, Joe Wilson, has become extremely outspoken on our issues. Also, the office of Congressman Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking member of the House, has become a great source of advice and assistance for us. If we could turn Minnesota into our next South Carolina, then that only leaves 48 other Great States left for us to win over.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
With a PAC, we would be able to regularly get advice from a professional lobbyist, contribute to campaigns of candidates we would like to help get into office or help keep in office, and do other things to get the word out on our issues. That would not just apply to tax -- I only mention tax above because it is a specifically financial issue, but of course many people would be equally motivated to contribute to a PAC to support us on voting, banking and other issues. A PAC is the next logical step if we want to take our political advocacy up a notch and have more of an impact on Capitol Hill.
The key stumbling block, however, is fundraising. We know there’s a need for this and there should be more than adequate funding, but no one knows exactly how to reach out to 6 million people and convince them to help us help them. Each person could contribute a maximum of $5,000 a year (which in many cases is a lot less than what they're spending on unjustified US taxes). Of course, many people would contribute at much lower levels than that and if enough of them did so, it could make a big difference for us on the Hill. If you have advice on how to reach out to potential donors and encourage them to contribute, then that will help us move forward on this idea. Just email any ideas to me at email@example.com. We need your help!
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
On Monday, the first day of OAW, we received some advice from a Congressional staffer that is noteworthy for its pure straightforwardness. We are always glad to get direct feedback, even when the person we are speaking with is delivering bad news.
The context: One of our main issues this year is banking services. Overseas Americans are facing increasing difficulty obtaining banking services, both in the US and abroad. Both problems are linked to US law and regulations. Many US banks are closing existing accounts and refusing to open new ones, often claiming that the Patriot Act prevents them from having overseas customers. Meanwhile, some foreign banks are closing accounts and refusing to open new ones, claiming that increasingly burdensome US banking and securities regulations make compliance too difficult.
The feedback: We are speaking to members of Congress and staffers dealing with banking issues to educate them on the problem and attempt to find solutions. And the frank feedback that we received on Monday was simply this: “Get used to it because it’s only going to get worse.” The staffer in question appeared to understand the issue, be interested in finding solutions for us, but bluntly warned us that things are likely to get worse before they get better. In his view, US regulations will continue to increase the burden on overseas Americans and other governments will begin to adopt similar approaches, creating additional difficulties for us and for their own citizens around the world. Hopefully in the meantime, this staffer and others like him will take up our cause and try to find ways to fight that trend so that overseas Americans are able to open and maintain the bank accounts they need.
For details on banking services or any of our issues, refer to our position papers at www.overseasamericansweek.com.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Welcome to the third-annual installment of Mr. Coyne Goes to Washington, a weeklong blog chronicling Overseas Americans Week (OAW). OAW is organized by three organizations representing Americans living abroad – the Association of Americans Resident Overseas (AARO), American Citizens Abroad (ACA), and the Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas (FAWCO). OAW 2010 is taking place from April 19 through April 23.
Leading up to this OAW, the other organizers and I were very excited to be bringing what would have been the largest-ever delegation. We were expecting to have approximately 25-30 people coming to DC from France, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. Then along came a volcano named Eyjafjallajoekull, which as you know has conspired against millions of well-laid plans. We don’t know what Eyjafjallajoekull has against us in particular, but we’re holding a grudge. Yes, anti-volcano legislation is in the works.
But that hasn’t stopped OAW from getting underway. We have important issues to tackle, most notably tax, banking services and voting. Despite the difficulties for people traveling from or through Europe, we have been able to get thirteen delegates from our organizations and affiliated groups to DC and kicked things off on Monday morning. Adjustments are being made on the fly, but the show must go on. Stay tuned.